My friend Ann Taylor Pittman, the executive food editor of Cooking Light magazine, recently visited Korea for the first time. Reading her name alone, you wouldn’t guess that she’s half Korean, but she is. Ann took the epic journey with her brother, meeting up with relatives she barely knew, connecting with food bloggers and Korean culinary liaisons, and venturing to markets, restaurants, and bars. She recounted her emotional journey in the magazine’s 25th anniversary issue that came out in November.
I was interested in Ann’s experience ever since she told me about her plans in 2011. Her poignant story made me tear up. The recipes she presented made me famished. This unusual mandu (the generic Korean term for dumpling) was at the top of my list of recipes to try. The concept is brilliant and the look is adorable.
As with most Korean dumplings, tofu is involved, so are garlic and green onion. A little pork goes a long way to enriching the filling; use chicken thigh if you’re not porky. The shiitake mushroom contributes extra umami.
My husband and I enjoyed the shrimp mandu two days in a row for lunch and then for happy hour, which included a bottle of rose champagne. We toasted Ann.
I tweaked Ann’s original recipe to use firm block tofu and ground pork. I had some regular pot sticker skins and green dumpling skins around so I made festive two-toned batches.
My husband said that the Korean shrimp dumpling shape reminded him of a strange bird. “They’re a hoot to look at,” he said. “We should serve them next year at Thanksgiving!” The shrimp tail poking out evoked the neck of a swan. I told him that we didn't need to wait a year before eating these again. They're too good.
Korean Shrimp Dumplings
- 30 medium shrimp, unpeeled
- 5 ounces / 150 g firm tofu
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh shiitake mushroom caps
- 1/3 cup finely chopped green onion, green and white part
- 2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed with the side of a knife
- 3 ounces / 90 g ground pork, roughly chopped to loosen
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 30 dumpling or pot sticker (gyoza) wrappers
- 3 1/2 tablespoons light (regular) soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons roasted ground sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, green part only
- 1 Fresno chile, cut into thin rings
- Peel shrimp but leave the tails intact. Butterfly each shrimp by cutting each along its back but not all the way through the inside curve; you want it to splay open but stand up. Remove and discard vein.
- Break the tofu into chunks then gently squeeze in muslin or paper towel to drain and slightly mush. You should have a bit more than 3 oz (90 g). Put into a bowl.
- Use a mini food processor to mince the mushroom. Add to the tofu along with the green onion, garlic, pork, pepper and salt. Mix well with a fork. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if you like. Otherwise, set aside at your work area along with the wrappers, a small water bowl and brush. Line 2 or 3 steamer trays with parchment paper, making sure to leave some space for air ventilation.
- In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
- To make each dumpling, center a shrimp on a wrapper, cut side down with the tail pointing up. Top with about 1 teaspoon of filling. Moisten the edge of the wrapper with water then fold up the wrapper to form a half moon. To help the dumpling sit up in the steamer, make a series of pleats along the edge, just like for the pea pod shape. (Watch this video if you need help.) Press on the edge firmly to ensure a good seal. Place dumpling, seam side up, on the lined steamer tray. Repeat to make more, putting any overflow dumpling on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet sprinkled with flour. Cover the finished dumplings loosely with a dry dishtowel to prevent drying.
- Steam the dumplings over boiling water for about 8 minutes, until the shrimp tail is pinkish orange and the skins are translucent and a little puffy. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce, inviting guests to use their fingers or chopsticks to eat.
Related posts and recipes for more noshes:
- How to fold basic Asian dumpling shapes: half moon, pea pod and big hug
- Why muslin is the better cheesecloth
- Deviled Sriracha Crab Rangoon
- Tofu, Kimchi and Bacon Taco
- Fried Tofu and Egg Pancake (Tahu Telur)
- Crunchy Shrimp Balls (aka Chef's Special Balls)
- Sriracha and Crab Rangoon Wontons
- Almost Meatless Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers